The word "Tindallgram" appears in three posts:

and Bill Tindall is mentioned in two other posts:

Question: I wonder if this is not a coincidence. What exactly is a Tindallgram? What's the origin of the term and what is it exactly that makes a document a proper Tindallgram?


"Well, I just got back from MIT with my weekly quota of new ulcers, which I thought might interest you.”

Bill Tindall, June 13 1966

According to http://tindallgrams.net/ (thanks to @OrganicMarble's comment):


The snarky memos of Apollo’s unsung genius

In 1966, as the American space program was working furiously towards a moon landing, Howard W. “Bill” Tindall, Jr., an expert on orbital mechanics, was sent by NASA to MIT to oversee the development of software for the spacecraft guidance systems. Tindall found a lot of brilliant people at MIT working in development program that was behind schedule, was failing to meet its requirements, and threatened to become, in his words, “the most pacing item for the Apollo flights.” He dove into the task of refashioning every aspect of the software development process, writing a series of frank memos that entered NASA lore under the name “Tindallgrams” that continued as he moved on to lead the planning of all “mission techniques” for Apollo.

Flight Director Gene Kranz said of Tindall “if there should have been a lunar plaque left on the Moon from somebody in Mission Control or Flight Control - it should have been for Bill Tindall. Tindall was the guy who put all the pieces together, and all we did is execute them.

There is an effort to convert surviving records of Tindallgrams into a single, uniform, electronic resource in Github: https://github.com/seanredmond/Tindallgrams/

@OrganicMarble also mentions that an archive of originals can be found here: http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum29/HTML/000815.html

note: in this particular post I have preserved some raw urls intentionally, it helps people to note where things are kept.

  • $\begingroup$ Software development behind schedule? Not meeting requirements? I am shocked! I swear that's never happened before! $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon Jul 10 '19 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon: or since! ;-) $\endgroup$ – Fred Jul 10 '19 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ In the book Sunburst and Luminary (written by the guy that wrote the LM descent guidance software) there's a (very positive) discussion of Tindall, his panel, and the -grams. This book is great, BTW, highly recommended, it has the best explanation of the Apollo 11 program alarms I've ever read. I learned the problem was discovered twice independently before the flight, but not fixed. The only problem is the book seems to be quite obscure, I had to get it from Interlibrary Loan. (I didn't want to buy it before reading) $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jul 13 '19 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ I checked online, no sign of it here or in Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand or Australia; lucky you! But what do you mean "his panel"? If you run across something interest let me know! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 13 '19 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ Sunburst and Luminary is available on Amazon these days, I got it for Christmas 2019. $\endgroup$ – DylanSp Jan 29 '20 at 12:59

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